Newly identified scanner, feeling lost (edit: or found!)

What should you do when you want to do everything? If you're fascinated by everything, and you've been called dabbler, dilettante, undisciplined, indecisive etc., this forum is for you.

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Newly identified scanner, feeling lost (edit: or found!)

Postby zogecko » Mon Jan 11, 2016 10:29 pm

Hello!

First, Barbara, thank you for your book, Refuse to Choose. I've finished Part 1, and I've cried with relief repeatedly over the last few days since I started reading it. As I'm sure you've heard before, it's like we did a vulcan mind meld, and it's so nice to feel understood.

Now, I've gone from feeling elation over this new understanding, to deep sadness that's touching on multiple topics, so I'll try to explain as briefly as I can ( :lol: ). I'm guessing this story is common here, but it feels unique to me right now ...

When I was in high school and we were supposed to start narrowing in on a field, I used to say, "I wish someone would just pay me to think." I loved problems. Any kind of problem. Even that early, I understood I was a scanner, I just didn't know it had a name - so I assumed I had no "real" passion, or just hadn't found it yet. I was a strong student who was ultimately just lazy and a procrastinator.

My solution for the 20 years since (I'm 38 now) has been to just go with the flow, and not really engage life beyond little entertainments, and constantly wondering the "what if's" and "I wonder how's". I was, of course, too lazy to pursue anything seriously (or so I told myself).

Anyway, when I had my daughter 2 years ago, I suddenly thought, "how can I encourage her to follow her passions, when I don't even know what mine are?" So, in what I now recognize as a scan, I jumped on trying to find my passion. And I jumped hard, taking every passion-finding online thing I could find, reading books, all that. Plus, I wanted to get my family to a point where I was making enough money that my husband could quit his job.

I zeroed in on some of my favorite passions of late, but still nothing felt like the lightening bolt I'd been hoping for, until Refuse to Choose.

First I felt elated. But now, here are the sad points --

... I mourn the loss of "the one true passion." I know, I'd be bored. But I still had painted a picture in my head of how my life would be getting to follow one path if I ever found it, and now ~POOF~ that's gone.

... I regret the last two decades of perceiving myself as lazy. What a waste.

... I'm not understanding why I should be okay with all the unfinished projects. I understand the bee analogy, I love the koan ... and I understand that I have what I came for from those projects. The challenge is over...every project I ever dropped, I dropped when they became routine.

But, in addition to planning and problem solving, one of the things I identify with is "being seen," and half finished projects just break my heart, sitting there waiting for me to come back to them. I never actually thought of myself as flaky, but suddenly I feel flaky. I'm keenly aware of all the things I've never finished (there's more than I thought!) and they just make me feel horrible. I understand the examples of people being successful scanners, and yet ... if I imagine myself embracing the scan, and just stopping when I'm done, I can't break away from the idea that all these new things will just be sitting there half done, not seen, and certainly not making any moves towards a more profitable life.

I'm trying to tell myself that if I start embracing the ideas and projects, and running at them full force, that I'll have plenty I never "finish" by society's definition, but maybe some will make it through, and maybe some of those finished or unfinished ones will still be profitable (either to me emotionally, financially, or both). Heck, maybe I'll even be able to start choosing what I want to eat from menus in restaurants (choice paralysis gets me even down to such a simple level).

But is there more to accepting this? The book keeps saying, there's nothing wrong with you (or the person in the story). But I don't feel that. Is there something I'm still missing that I should find reassuring? Part of me is so happy to have identified myself so completely, and yet, I'm still not understanding how to embrace not-finishing as a good thing.

... Finally, I feel like I've just been told, "you can't make a lot of money." Now, I think chances are, I shouldn't have that as a goal. And for that matter, chances are my husband needs to save himself from his own job. But I've wanted to make "lots of money" since I was a child. I grew up going to a private school where the majority was rich, and I was not. I didn't associate money with happiness (these kids weren't necessarily happy). But, I have been thinking a lot about it today, and I did associate money with all the cool things I couldn't have, whether it was a nice tidy house without a lot of stuff, or gameboys and vacations to cool places.

Now, I'm at a place where I can pay the bills, and we've made a lot of nice choices for ourselves, but many months are still over budget. I want to be able to do things without stress over whether or not it's in the budget (hint: it isn't).

But this scanner life tells me, no, that's not in the cards for you. Enjoy the things you do, and you'll be content. ...But I'm skeptical of how to let this go, when it runs so very deep.
Last edited by zogecko on Wed Jan 13, 2016 4:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Newly identified scanner, and feeling lost

Postby Andrew_ » Tue Jan 12, 2016 12:25 pm

Dear zogecko,

First, thank you for joining! I'm very touched at your depth. Sometimes it's really hard to admit when you're unhappy. And to still keep going, to not give up even then.

I've never understood either how anyone can be expected to choose a lifelong career when they're a teenager. It sounds like you've always dreamed of having "one true passion", and it's distressing to find out you can't (if indeed you can't!). Maybe you aren't even a scanner. I need to go back and look, but I think Barbara described something called an "frustrated diver" in /I could do anything if only I knew what it was/ (in the chapter about scanners).

I know unfinished projects can be disheartening. You could work in a team effort, where you get the inspiring ideas off the ground and leave them for others to finish. I'm not much of a team player, so I found it helps to take on the smallest of projects, something you can finish in a day or two before running out of momentum. (For me, it was writing music. The only way to get over the writer's block was to decide that a piece could be just 20 measures long and still be, yes, really complete.) What happens after that, we'll have to see. Maybe you'll build momentum and take on big things. Or maybe you'll make lots of little gems. Either way is just fine.

I'm no money expert, but Barbara has so many amazing stories of how people pursued supposedly costly dreams, without any money. When you're ready to tell us exactly what you're looking for (videogames in a cottage overlooking a fjord, or whatever), maybe some of us can come through with great ideas. At least tidiness should cost nothing (Leo Babauta has some good advice at zenhabits.net/declutter/).

I hope someone else comes along who can actually help. But rest assured, there's most certainly nothing weird or wrong about you. Your soul, like a flower, just needs the right environment to flourish in. Sometimes the smallest changes in your environment can transform your life (like asking someone for help with something).

There are things you care about, deeply, intensely. When we've found those and you're spending your time with them, that will be so fulfilling.
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Re: Newly identified scanner, and feeling lost

Postby SquarePeg » Tue Jan 12, 2016 2:08 pm

zogecko wrote:Hello!
-snip-
... I'm not understanding why I should be okay with all the unfinished projects. I understand the bee analogy, I love the koan ... and I understand that I have what I came for from those projects. The challenge is over...every project I ever dropped, I dropped when they became routine.

But, in addition to planning and problem solving, one of the things I identify with is "being seen," and half finished projects just break my heart, sitting there waiting for me to come back to them. I never actually thought of myself as flaky, but suddenly I feel flaky. I'm keenly aware of all the things I've never finished (there's more than I thought!) and they just make me feel horrible. I understand the examples of people being successful scanners, and yet ... if I imagine myself embracing the scan, and just stopping when I'm done, I can't break away from the idea that all these new things will just be sitting there half done, not seen, and certainly not making any moves towards a more profitable life.

Welcome!

I can understand how seeing unfinished projects can drag you down, so I think it's important to stow them away or donate them. But first, you might document them in an album of sorts. The album itself can be a project in which each chapter, section or page becomes its own achievement.

Moving forward, consider starting a Scanner Daybook. It might be enough for you just to record an idea for a project in your Scanner Daybook rather than manifest it physically.

I hope you won't convince yourself that you can't make money. I'm sure if you network with people, you'll make some connections that will result in financial reward.

Good luck!
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Re: Newly identified scanner, and feeling lost

Postby NowIknow » Tue Jan 12, 2016 10:54 pm

Congratulations on your discovery as a Scanner. I understand your tear of relief, been there done that. :) Glad to hear someone sharing how they feel. love to hear more.

I mourn my past a lot, the unnecessary suffering. but can't cry much over the spilt milk.

I took my design as a first level finished project. After I made it, it's second level success/finished project. As a Scanner, there are too many designs that it is impossible to make it all to the second level success/finished project. But it's all finished, in a different level. :) I look at it with my own standard and not someone else's standard. :)
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Re: Newly identified scanner, and feeling lost

Postby zogecko » Wed Jan 13, 2016 4:01 pm

Alright, so, it's been 4 days since I found out I was a scanner. In fact I added it to my calendar as an anniversary. :)

I am feeling significantly better, having processed some of these ideas even further. Hooray for that!

To respond to some of your suggestions and ideas (and thank you three for your thoughtful replies!!), and then to add some more thoughts below ...

Andrew_ wrote:Maybe you aren't even a scanner.


Based on how I felt reading the book, I bet I am. It was like reading my long lost manual, and has at this point, explained most of the way I am about everything. It's amazing. :D

Andrew_ wrote:Maybe you'll build momentum and take on big things. Or maybe you'll make lots of little gems. Either way is just fine.

I really like this, and I should sticky-note this to my wall somewhere. :)

SquarePeg wrote:But first, you might document them in an album of sorts. The album itself can be a project in which each chapter, section or page becomes its own achievement.


Yesssss. This. So much this. I love the idea of having these be achievements, and not failures. I hope that if I do this, I will have a better ability to let these old things go.

NowIknow wrote:I took my design as a first level finished project. After I made it, it's second level success/finished project. As a Scanner, there are too many designs that it is impossible to make it all to the second level success/finished project. But it's all finished, in a different level. :) I look at it with my own standard and not someone else's standard. :)


I *love* this. I love the idea of different "tiers" of "finished." I'm totally stealing that.


~~~

At this point, I'm amazed at how free I feel. I'm in a job that pays pretty well and affords me a lot of freedom to design how my day goes, but I felt like I still needed to find My One Passion. As the book said (and, coincidentally, happens to be the point at which I started bawling) that voice telling you what that passion is "is never coming." If that's the case, I should not be working so hard to figure out how to get out of this job and off starting my own company, but perhaps embracing this idea that I just want to investigate problems and learn. That I'm NOT lazy. I'm NOT a procrastinator. That I can go ahead and research quantum physics, something I'd convinced myself I was too lazy to do, or not committed enough. If I zero in on the part I want to learn about, commitment won't be a problem.

I finished the book, and I've decided that I can't yet identify which type of scanner I am - and that's fine for me for the moment. I've been suppressing this side of myself for so long, that I don't actually know what my routine is, so I'm going to watch for a while and find out. Because, had you asked me 5 days ago if I had any interests, I'd say, "sure, some, and I always cycle back to photography or art," which might imply that, among other things, I am a photographer or artist. But, what I've learned upon a lot of self reflection over the last few days is, a) those things are safe spaces for me, where I don't feel dumb, and b) I'm not cycling, actually - I'm digging into a new piece each time, with almost no reference back to previous aspects. For example, I've been through portrait photography, landscape photography, macro, refraction, light painting, composite, each once. I've never revisited any of them that I can think of. Same thing with art.

So, this will be an interesting journey. This concept has taken many things I knew about myself already, and turned them on their heads. ...No, not on their heads. This concept has taken many things I knew about myself, and set them free. :)
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Re: Newly identified scanner, feeling lost (edit: or found!)

Postby BarbaraSher » Wed Jan 13, 2016 4:11 pm

I am delighted to hear every word, zogecko. :-)
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Re: Newly identified scanner, feeling lost (edit: or found!)

Postby zogecko » Wed Jan 13, 2016 4:51 pm

BarbaraSher wrote:I am delighted to hear every word, zogecko. :-)


Thank you, Barbara!

Oh, and I forgot some really interesting insights I've had ... it amazes me how deep this runs into everything I do, not just my hobbies or work. Commitment fears pop up when I'm choosing dinner in a restaurant ("what if it's the wrong one?!?"). Choosing a doctor, dentist, dog boarding, are all extremely difficult - even though I logically know if I pick the wrong one, I can just switch - I will still be frozen from acting on decisions like this.

Or, on the flip side, places where I see my scanner nature shining through on something really small, like learning about cold brew coffee. I learned about it, (learned everything I could find about it), tried it, wrote up instructions and taught people at work how to do it, and then I lost interest and "left" it - meanwhile, the following summer, cold brew appeared again. Little moments of action like that, where LTTL happened unintentionally.

I can't wait to see how awareness helps choice phobia, and what happens when I start acting as a scanner with intention! :)
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Re: Newly identified scanner, feeling lost (edit: or found!)

Postby BarbaraSher » Wed Jan 13, 2016 6:35 pm

lol! I love working on the next level like this, thinking about how far the Scanner-effect goes. I'm getting more curious about Scanners as time passes. So let us know. It's fascinating and people will benefit from everything that we learn.
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Re: Newly identified scanner, feeling lost (edit: or found!)

Postby NowIknow » Thu Jan 14, 2016 5:32 am

Dear Zogecko


I *love* this. I love the idea of different "tiers" of "finished." I'm totally stealing that.

Thanks, I'm glad you like the idea, it works for me. As you can see from my post in this forum "so excited..", at the beginning I used a lot of wording "unfinished project/product" and learned from Barbara's wisdom that it's ok to not finish it. Then I transformed it into my own finishing standard, that I finished learning what I was curious about. I don't think anymore I haven't finished anything. I think the book "Refuse to choose" also mentioned something about, breaking the big project into a smaller one.

Now I'm happy for my day that I could say, "hey I learned more/new thing/knowledge today" and feel like a winner. :) Instead of in the past that I would say, "well,I'm interested in new thing again, I will drop it again before making anything" and feel like the looser. :(
The same action of a day (i.e. enthusiastically watching you tube on how to decorate box with beads) I changed from feeling like a looser to feel like a winner. For me, that's Barbara's magic. :)
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Re: Newly identified scanner, feeling lost (edit: or found!)

Postby Elaine Glimme » Thu Jan 14, 2016 9:31 pm

hi,

I'm not really a scanner, but I have a couple of ideas about your post, Zogecko.

You said that you never finished anything. Is that really true? What about short projects like the ones Andrew_ wrote about? What about homework assignments? What about your job? I'll bet if you really need to get something done you do it.

As for projects that we do just for the love of the project, you don't have to be a scanner to have those kinds of unfinished projects. Some of them truly don't need to be finished. If there's something you really want to finish, get some support from friends or from some version of a success team. And consider being a serial scanner - doing one project, then going on to another, and so on. Okay, now I'm out of my depth.

Good luck.
Elaine Glimme - author - "Temporary Address" and "The Molly Chronicles"
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Re: Newly identified scanner, feeling lost (edit: or found!)

Postby zogecko » Thu Jan 14, 2016 11:26 pm

Elaine Glimme wrote:hi,
You said that you never finished anything.


...I did? I don't think I did. At least I can't find it. :D

Yeah, I'm a big fan of getting an ally on board for projects. I should try that for some of the things I would like to finish. For now, I'm going to start trying to accept the unfinished as finished in stages, because there's too much to ever go back to!

Can a person choose to be a certain kind of scanner?
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Re: Newly identified scanner, feeling lost (edit: or found!)

Postby Elaine Glimme » Sat Jan 16, 2016 1:57 pm

Zogecko, Oops! I misspoke. Sorry. You were talking about unfinished projects, and I took it a step too far. What I meant was celebrate the things that you did accomplish - balance out the story. There are a lot of things that you did finish.
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Re: Newly identified scanner, feeling lost (edit: or found!)

Postby zogecko » Sun Jan 17, 2016 7:21 am

Totally, and it's hard to focus on the wins sometimes! I think I'm definitely going to make a binder (although I'll probably do it virtually) of wins over time, so that I can remember accomplishments.
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Re: Newly identified scanner, feeling lost (edit: or found!)

Postby emspace » Tue Feb 02, 2016 9:30 pm

zogecko wrote:Totally, and it's hard to focus on the wins sometimes! I think I'm definitely going to make a binder (although I'll probably do it virtually) of wins over time, so that I can remember accomplishments.


As an exercise of keeping up some daily morale, you can also spend about 3 minutes at the end of the day writing down a few of your day’s wins. I helped create an app that helps keep track of these on an iPhone or Android phone, but there are many other apps, not to mention a thread here in the forums under Success Stories, plus there’s also the good ole journal. Anyway you do it, I’ve found it’s very satisfying to remind yourself what you managed to accomplish that day, even if it was only a baby step.

Congrats on discovering your Scanner-ness! And welcome!
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